Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading Raven

Reading Raven was created by Early Ascent, LLC. as a phonics-based reading app. It's a step-by-step instructional sequence for 3-5 year-olds. With all the literacy apps out there, can the Reading Raven stand out? Price: $3.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 3.2 or later

Developmental Appropriateness: There are 3-4 different activities for each age. Parents can select the age and types of activities within the age for their child. The activities are very appropriate and build upon each other. So for example, a 3 year-old activity is to trace letters, and by 5, the activity is to trace words. The feedback is also great, where if you get it wrong, it tells you why. Also, for each age, there are 5 levels. So in each level, you focus on a specific set of letters and letter-sounds and they increase the difficulty of the material (e.g. length of the sentences you see). For the most part, I agree with the leveling. Where I differ is that it seems to focus on lowercase letters first. Research has shown that kids learn uppercase letters first. I'm also not sure about the way they grouped the letters into each level. As I've said before, there's no real pattern to the order in which kids learn the letters. Yes, I think there are some letter-sounds that may be easier than others, or some that are easier to write than others, but then again, you might learn to write the letter "S" faster if your name is Sam. Since parents are already setting the activities and age, it might be good to have an option where they can choose the letters they want their child to focus on. Finally, while the "levels" present different graphics that are fun, the actual activities in each level are identical. I don't think kids will really see them as advancement in levels - but I'm just nitpicking at this point. Great app for learning phonics. Rating: 4.5/5 (age 3-5)

Balance: The different graphics are fun without distracting from the task at hand. (I don't really see where the raven fits in and he kinda has a weird voice.) Rating: 5/5

Sustainability: Given the number of different activities across the age range, there's certainly enough to master in terms of content. Each level shows your progress, but a record of scores may be helpful to encourage kids to repeat a level, especially when they may not have gotten everything correct. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: One aspect I loved about this app is the inclusion of a guide for parents and teachers explaining each activity and what the goals are. However, like I said, I'd like to see some sort of scoring, not only as an incentive for the kids, but more so for parents to review what their kid may or may not be excelling at. I think this is especially important since the parents are the ones setting the activities and difficulty. The scoring would provide at least some sort of crude measure that would help them decide what settings to check. Rating: 4/5

Total: 17.5 out of 20: 5 Stars

Disclosure: I received this app for free for review purposes.

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